The Story Massage Programme is making a real difference in helping children to accept nurture and positive touch at Abigail’s Place. The dedication and creativity of Story Massage trained practitioners at Abigail’s Place has been recognised with the prestigious award of Centre of Excellence.
Learning is Fun
Abigail’s Place is a small independent school for 5-16 year olds who require a therapeutic and nurturing environment. The school supports children who have experienced trauma and attachment disruption, early loss and who find mainstream schools are not able to meet their academic, emotional and social needs.
Four members of staff are trained in the Story Massage Programme and use it in a variety of innovative ways, including therapeutic sessions, drumming, yoga, and educational lessons.
“We find that massage stories can be helpful in lessons when children need to remember key dates or information. Our learners can explain how plants grow and the dates for the Great Fire of London, for example, because topic-based massage stories help support their learning in a fun and engaging way!”Olivia Saunders, Therapeutic Play Facilitator.
Introducing Nurture and Positive Touch
Sharing massage stories helps reinforce positive touch and as a valuable relational tool. The Story Massage Programme is particularly beneficial within TIP (Theraplay ® Informed Play) sessions, especially with children who have just started school or may not have experienced positive touch. The sessions begin with a ‘Hello’ massage and end with a ‘Goodbye’ massage to provide structure and familiarity. This is proving to be a good starting point when introducing touch and can be developed throughout the session with the aim of helping children to accept nurture.
“The Story Massage Programme supports children with changes/transitions such as meeting new people or starting new schools. We provide carers, parents and children with tailored massage stories to encourage repetition of the massage story and help reduce anxieties.” Olivia Saunders, Therapeutic Play Facilitator.
Group Singing and Sense of Belonging
Children usually sit in a circle or line so that everyone is giving and receiving a massage at the same time – then they change direction, so the children have a massage from different people. This is less daunting and helps ease some of the anxieties around touch. Most massage stories are sung as this brings unity and adds a more light-hearted aspect to reduce the intensity of touch for some of our children. School staff have also found that singing is more regulating and enjoyable for the children (and adults!).
“We love to sing our massage stories. The communal singing while doing the strokes encourages a sense of belonging, regulatory benefits and releases positive neurochemicals such as oxytocin” Olivia Saunders, Therapeutic Play Facilitator.
Centres of Excellence 2023
You can read more about our other two new Centres of Excellence 2023.
Are you inspired by the benefits of the Story Massage Programme at Abigail’s Place? Find out all about the Story Massage Programme online course here: Story Massage Training Online.